The IP League Table ranking process is based upon the assessment of five IP asset classes – Brand & Reputation, Patents, Critical Databases, Software and Trade Secrets. These were chosen to highlight companies that are using their IP assets to create effective barriers to entry and the competitive advantages needed for growth and international expansion.
This year, we have been both thrilled and overwhelmed by the growth and developments centred around the IP100 in 2016/17. The IP100 now exceeds 100 companies, with many new entrants hailing from bold, pioneering industries, such as biomimetics and virtual reality software.
We’ve hosted numerous IP100 Club events throughout the year and across the UK; highlighting the quality of our IP100 entrants to potential investors and shining the spotlight on intellectual property (“IP”) strategy by utilising a variety of guest speakers. These events, supported by IP100 Champions, including LSEG ELITE, Olswang LLP and MBM Commercial LLP, have not only provided even more opportunities for our legacy entrants to strengthen their IP portfolios, they have also enabled our new stream of entrants to integrate smoothly into the IP100 community. The IP100 has become the UK’s fast growing marketplace for scalable and IP-rich companies seeking investment.
One facet that is particularly pleasing about the new wave of entrants is that, despite the youth of their industries, the quality of their IP portfolios is impressive. Of course, this is to be expected, for IP is often the most valuable asset in emerging new businesses, especially when innovative technology is the figurehead for their planned future growth. It is a privilege to meet so many of these new entrants and learn more about the IP within their businesses. This is an opportunity that both I and the entire IP100 team are thankful for.
The IP League Table ranking process is based upon the assessment of five IP asset classes – Brand & Reputation, Patents, Critical Databases, Software and Trade Secrets. These were chosen to highlight companies that are using their IP assets to create effective barriers to entry and the competitive advantages needed for growth and international expansion. Our criteria also encompass a wide variety of IP assets – both formal and informal – seen to be the most critical for businesses and important to investors and funders.
I am pleased to reveal that the top-ranked companies were M Squared (a photonics technology company), Adrok PGM (a company specialising in geophysical services for the identification and exploration of natural resources) and P2i (a company specialising in liquid repellent nanocoatings). Both M Squared and P2i entered the IP100 as newcomers this year, and their inclusion in the top three highlights the quality of company that the IP100 is still able to attract. I would like to deliver my wholehearted congratulations to each of them, and also to every IP100 entrant for their outstanding achievements over the past twelve months.
2017 saw a shift in industry spread within the IP League Table, with B2B Software representing 27% of entrants, which is close to a 50% increase from the previous year. This increase was not unexpected, as B2B Software companies often seek to fundraise early in their lifecycle based on the strength of their IP alone, and being a part of the IP100 helps businesses better achieve this goal. Closely following B2B Software as the IP100’s dominating industry was both Business Services and Consumer Services, each of which registered at 24%. Perhaps this increase in both Business and Consumer Service entrants shows that companies are finally starting to see the true value in assets often lacking in protection, such as brands and databases.
It was also particularly insightful to see that entrants incorporated from 2011 onwards are implementing much more robust trade secret policies than their experienced counterparts, which, in turn, led to them scoring higher in that area on average. Counterbalancing this fact is the way entrants have been scoring in Software, with companies incorporated between 2001-2005 scoring highest in this particular asset class. This is perhaps down to the relative youth of software start-ups’ technology, which often leads to a lack of documentation behind the software code itself and a lack of protection procedures in place. More mature companies have had many years to create this kind of documentation, and develop their software coding, testing and protection strategies.
As well as giving each individual entrant new insights into their own IP strategies and IP management rating, the IP League Table provides a unique perspective on how IP assets are managed and treated in the UK as a whole. The IP League Table offers a real insight into the effectiveness of IP management techniques and how IP assets are viewed across a range of companies and industries. Our proprietary ranking process has proven to be a valuable and constructive benchmark, and has become a reliable indicator of the likely IP wealth of companies involved. – Stephen Robertson, Co-Founder of the IP100.
Brand and reputation
Like last year, Brand & Reputation was the most consistently highest scoring asset class for the 2017 IP League Table. It was even more interesting to see how far many entrants have come in this area since they were scored last year, with many making significant improvements to their social media and marketing strategies. Last year’s highest placed entrant for Brand & Reputation, Jones Publishing (a publishing and events platform under the Citywealth brand), retained its spot at number one this year, with Adrok PGM placing in second and Dogtag (a company offering an innovative travel insurance for athletes and adventurers) following in third.
Adrok leapt up the table thanks to its high customer retention rate and robust trade mark strategy, while Dogtag made real progress with brand sponsorships and endorsements, gaining valuable exposure from many popular bloggers who have begun to promote the brand.
It was tight at the top of the Patent table this year, with first-placed P2i and runner-up Lifescaped (a new entrant focussed on researching natural structures and procedures to create biomimetics) leading the pack thanks to their wide patent portfolios spanning across multiple key territories. Both companies also carried out significant due diligence before filings to ensure the patent landscape was in their favour.
M Squared was not too far behind in third place. Although the Oil & Gas sector prominently features in our top 20 Patents table for the second consecutive year, there was also a clear rise in the presence of Biotechnology firms and those specialising in Business Services.
B2B Software companies yet again made up the bulk of the top 20 list for Software this year. There was very little separating entrants in this category this year, with the cream of the crop including Spot Seven (Mativision) (a company offering virtual reality live streaming software) in first place, Adrok PGM and its geophysical analytic software in second, and Kromek (radiation detection solutions developer) in third. Interestingly, Software was the highest scoring asset on average across every industry sector. This is certainly pleasing to see, as software is steadily becoming one of the most valuable assets a company can own, and companies are more comfortable having their own dedicated software developers as opposed to relying on third party development teams. It is therefore no surprise that companies are beginning to do all they can to properly manage and protect their bespoke programs, and correctly document their software development and testing processes to better communicate the scalability of these assets – something that should be core to a company’s growth strategy.
This year saw Stevenson Astrosat (experts at sourcing, analysing and deploying satellite driven data) and LUX Assure (a company providing revolutionary new technology to detect, measure and monitor chemical concentrations) continue to be top of the Trade Secrets table. In third-place were COREX (UK) (a specialist in geological services for oil and gas), with newcomers M Squared and Spot Seven (Mativision) making up the top 5. They were able to achieve this by implementing robust trade secret policies and raising a real awareness of the issue within their businesses. Both held similarly comprehensive trade secret policies in their arsenal. Much like last year, there was real diversity in the scoring of Trade Secrets.
Many companies recognised the importance of trade secrets and acknowledged they have assets that may qualify as such, but had not yet formalised the capture or protection of their trade secrets. Statistics showed that only 18% of entrants had an official trade secret policy in place. This highlights that Trade Secrets is an area where companies have room to make significant improvements. Oil & Gas entrants featured throughout this year’s top 20, which is understandable, considering trade secrets can often act as a complimentary asset to patents, which are also well recognised in this industry.
Critical Databases is another asset class where there was very little separating the top entrants. This year at the summit of the top 20 was Digitonic (a mobile marketing company), with Miituu (an innovative video system that enables organisations to record, manage and share digital stories via their own private video channel) coming in second, and Metail (a company that has developed software allowing online shoppers to digitally try on clothes) taking third spot.
Our scoring process indicated that not only are entrants comprehensively storing the data they collect, but they are also using it to their own advantage, with 71% of entrants carrying out analysis of their data and using this to inform future marketing efforts. However, not all entrants have such tools available to them, with 44% storing their data in Microsoft Excel as opposed to using a dedicated software platform. It will be interesting to see the rise of data in future IP League Tables as investors recognise the importance of data and analytics in a successful business model and in any developing market.